From Cradle to College to Care Packages
*Update at the end written after her first year of college.
It’s been said (and quoted on the internet) the two hardest days for parents are the first day home with their newborn and the first day home without their newborn adult. My oldest child has just flown the coop, left her nest, and started her own journey. She’s in a new city two thousand miles from home, an independent young adult no longer under my roof. After moving her in and hugging her goodbye on her new campus, I’m here to report I cried like a blubbering baby in the rental car on the way to the airport without her. I also wouldn’t want and can’t imagine her being anywhere else.
I’ve always wanted to be a mom and create my own nuclear family after my family fractured from divorce and mental health and substance abuse issues. I felt loved growing up but I would do things differently than my hands-off parents who in the 70s and 80s were wrapped up in their own lives. I would take a more measured hands-on approach to child-rearing using everything I had in my arsenal: my years of early childhood development in psychology as an undergrad, the teaching credentials that brought me into kindergarten through twelfth-grade classrooms, all the parenting manuals I poured over from my daughters’ infancy to young adulthood, all the years I was involved with their schools and attended the parent education events, and my mental health awareness and advocacy I was so passionate about that led me to write and podcast.
When I taught kindergarten, most parents had tears in their eyes as they hugged their kids goodbye, dropping their precious five-year-olds off for the first day of school. Little did they know they’d have tears in their eyes thirteen years later when they dropped their college kids off at school. When they dropped off their child for middle school, a time when their friends surpass family in importance, tears were less common. But when those middle schoolers came home from school, hopefully, their parents appreciated as I had their contagious energy fueled by new music, new ideas, and new passions. Bigger kids, bigger worries surface as they get their driver’s license or attend co-ed parties where you are not invited. The memorable, often painful, and growth-expanding four years of high school allow parents a front-row…